jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

Back in Black

There used to be a line between having a Mac, and owning a Mac, and that line was drawn with Quicksilver. Quicksilver changed the way I thought about using my computer in a very fundamental way. It led me to think more about telling it what to do, instead of clicking about asking it to do something. It led me to think about mastering my tools like a craftsman, choosing my tools with great care and thought. Quicksilver was my first step towards owning my Mac.

At first, Quicksilver is a difficult application to get your head wrapped around. At least it was a few years ago. It’s an application launcher, a file browser, a mail client, a basic text editor, a database manager… and more. What truly sums up an explanation of Quicksilver is that it’s a unified interaction paradigm for the Mac. You speak to it in sentences, tell it what you want, and then what you want done with it.

Here’s what I said about it in a paper I wrote in 2006:

Using a Mac can be made much more productive by installing the free application named Quicksilver from Blacktree. Quicksilver runs in the background and waits until the user presses a pre- defined key combination. Once the main Quicksilver window is available, the user types in the first few letters of what he is looking for, followed by a tab, and then the first few letters of what the user wants to do with the item selected. For example, to launch the Safari web browser, the user could type “S tab return” and the application would launch. Quicksilver is a major leap forward in human computer interaction, however it currently has a very steep learning curve and takes some getting used to.

I’m so glad to see Quicksilver back in active development again. I’ve looked at the source code, and it’s a daunting task, but it seems like the group who’s adopted it is a dedicated bunch. They’ve set up a twitter account, and a blog; both of which are worth following.

There are so many things that Quicksilver does that I’ve forgotten how much I’ve missed them. Appending a text file on the fly, adding an event to iCal, shooting off a quick email, searching the web at DuckDuckGo, keyboard access to an apps menu, moving files, printing files, the list goes on, and on.

I suppose this is a testament to open source, that a dead project can be resurrected by a few who want the app to continue. Here’s hoping that it not only continues, but thrives.

quicksilver mac productivity